The Knicks' Danilo Gallinari, right, backs down Washington's Mike Miller...

The Knicks' Danilo Gallinari, right, backs down Washington's Mike Miller during the Knicks' 114-103 win at Madison Square Garden. (Apr. 12, 2010) Credit: AP

Danilo Gallinari kept his word that he will spend this offseason working on his body and his game to prepare for next season with the Knicks. The Italian national team wanted him to play this summer to compete for a bid in the 2011 Eurobasket tournament.

Italy did not qualify for the World Championships, which will be played in Turkey at the end of the summer.

Gallinari's NBA countrymen Andrea Bargnani and Marco Belinelli have both said they'll play for Italy, But Gallinari, who told us late in the season that he wasn't going to join them this summer, on Tuesday officially took himself out of consideration.

According to the Italian newspaper, La Gazzetta dello Sport, Italian basketball federation president Dino Meneghin said Gallinari referenced his surgically-repaired back as the reason why he couldn't compete.

An NBA team can not prohibit a player from competing for his national team in the offseason -- otherwise, the Spurs wouldn't have let Manu Ginobili put so many miles on his body over the years -- but privately the Knicks are quite pleased that Gallinari has stick to his decision to focus on getting proper rest and preparing for next season. There was a great deal of pressure in Italy for Gallinari to join Bargnani and Belinelli to help the struggling national team, which hasn't had much success on the international stage in recent years.

Loosely translated from the La Gazzetta report, Meneghin said Gallinari "will have to follow a particular program of exercises for the back made last year. This situation prevents him from playing the Europoean qualifiers this summer . . . I understand his physical problems and needs . . . The door is always open."

It is not believed that Gallinari has any additional issues with the back, which gave him no trouble at all this season. He played in 81 of 82 games, which was a positive sign to begin with, but he also showed impressive durability later in the season as he drove to the basket more often and hit the deck several times without any issue.

Gallinari's focus, I'm told, this summer is to improve his lower body strength, explosion and athleticism, while continuing to strengthen his core muscles to ensure the back never becomes an issue again. He has been in Italy for the past few weeks but said he planned to be back in New York by June to begin his offseason training regimen.


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